Seven mine workers who were abducted in Nigeria last week, among them three Australians and one New Zealander with permanent Australian residency, have been released. It emerged Monday morning the miners are safe; however, there's no word yet whether a ransom was paid to their kidnappers.
Macmahon Holdings, the Perth-based mining and engineering firm that employed the workers, has not commented on a ransom payment. However, many news outlets are pointing out that the seven workers' speedy release suggests it's likely money changed hands.
Speaking to the ABC, Macmahon chief Sy van Dyk said the company had worked with local and international crime fighting authorities to release the workers. "We are very grateful for the professional support we have received from the authorities on the ground in Nigeria," he said. "This has been an incredible team effort and our highest priority now is to finish the job by continuing to work together to get our people back safely to their families and homes."
Five of the seven rescued workers sustained injuries during their time held captive, including two who are in a "serious" condition. "Our men have been through a traumatic experience, and we have mobilised medical and other support teams in Nigeria to provide immediate support," van Dyk said.
At this stage, there's no confirmation from either the Australian or New Zealand governments as to whether they intervened to help free the workers. Neither government supports paying ransoms.
The Macmahon workers were captured last Wednesday, in an ambush that occurred around 5:30 AM, as the group drove across a bridge outside the Nigerian city of Calabar. It's estimated 30 armed militants, in several vehicles, rushed the moving car and abducted the workers, after fatally shooting their driver.
The kidnappers reportedly escaped by boat down a nearby river, taking the hostages with them.
Follow Kat on Twitter